Head of UN agency defending press freedom deplores killings in Brazil and Iraq

18 April 2011

The head of the United Nations agency defending press freedom today condemned the recent murders of media professionals in Brazil and Iraq, stressing that these crimes must not go unpunished.

Brazilian radio and television journalist Luciano Leitão Pedrosa was known for his critical coverage of local authorities and criminal groups and allegedly received frequent threats. The 46-year-old presented the Ação e Cidadania (Action and Citizenship) programme on TV Vitória, and also reported for the FM radio station Metropolitana.

He was shot in a restaurant on 10 April in Vitória de Santo Antão in north-eastern Pernambuco state.

“Journalists must be free to work without fear. The public debate to which they contribute lies at the heart of democratic governance,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

She said the murder of Mr. Pedrosa is a direct attack against this debate, and against the basic human right of freedom of expression. “I condemn this killing, which must not go unpunished.”

Ms. Bokova also deplored the killing of Iraqi television executive Taha Hameed and called for improved safety for journalists in the country.

Mr. Hameed, the head of al-Massar TV, was driving with Iraqi human rights activist Abed Farhan Thiyab when they were shot dead in the south of Baghdad on 8 April.

“By informing the public, by promoting dialogue and debate, by giving voice to the citizens of Iraq, the media play a major role in the reconstruction of the country,” said Ms. Bokova. “They must be able to work in conditions of reasonable safety and in the knowledge that crimes against them will not go unpunished.”

According to the International Press Institute, Mr. Hameed is the fifth journalist to be killed in Iraq this year.

 

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